Kickstart This – The Depth of Yagen by Shigeru Okada

The Depth of Yagen, a stop-motion indie horror film by animator and author Shigeru Okada, is currently raising funds through Kickstarter. It promises to be something unique due to the style of animation and the story it tells.

The story draws upon Japanese history and mythology and is summarized as ‘The sad story of a creature and one mother in olden-day Japan.’ The full synopsis is as follows:

Once upon a time in Japan, there was a poor couple living with their only daughter. One day, the father, an avid gambler, sells his daughter to human traffickers in order to settle his gambling debts. The traffickers, on their way back to the village with the man’s daughter, decide to take a shortcut by entering the forbidden mountain. The girl’s mother pursues the traffickers into the mountain in a bid to reclaim her daughter. The mother begins a terrifying transformation as the curse of the mountain settles on her. Yet, she continues her pursuit to save her daughter…

Check out the trailer:

Stop-motion isn’t as common as 2D animation and horror stories told in stop-motion are especially rare. As can be seen in the video, the transformation is genuinely creepy but there are also aspects like the tears rolling down a character’s face, facial expressions and more. You can expect the model work to be exquisite in order to deliver the body-horror and emotions for a really suspenseful story.

Stop-motion animation is also expensive and time consuming so a Kickstarter campaign is needed to help finance the production but it will also be used to create a set of ‘making-of’ materials ranging from a book to a film. The ‘making-of’ film will detail the fabrication of puppets and props, lighting, animation and editing processes.

Check out this ‘making of’ video:

Both the film and the ‘making-of’ materials are something Okada hopes to use to share his skills with aspiring animators and he will do so by putting them online for people to access.

The anime Okada is working on will be split into five episodes, each lasting 7-8 minutes. The film will be animated in 2019 and released in 2020 in two versions. A short version (approximately three minutes long) will be distributed for free on Okada’s YouTube channel with a focus on the story and supernatural atmosphere and cuts scenes that are extreme. Meanwhile, a full, uncut version (seven to eight minutes) will be made available on payable video viewing sites, such as VIMEO (One episode: 300JPY. All five episodes: 1,500JPY). Subtitles will be available in Japanese, English, and Spanish.

The minimum Kickstarter pledge gives a person access to all five uncut episodes of the anime. After that, rewards keep increasing, including access to a PDF version of the ‘making-of’ book, a DVD copy of the anime, an invitation to the film’s cinema screening and, if you pledge enough, you can even appear in the film as a model. This is a great way for Okada to use his skills as an animator to teach and get people involved in the project.

The project has until June 11 to reach its goal, so head over to the Kickstarter page if you want to help out.